January 12, 2013
Part I has rules and observations on accents (~15 pages), followed by passages with suggested accents and pauses marked (~75 pages). The rules are like: “The adjective, or adjective phrase, takes the primary accent.”
Part II has rules and observations on intonations (~70 pages) followed by a collection of passages with their intended intonation marked (~80 pages).
An extract from the introduction to Part II:
A range of tone that would be quite sufficient to convey, with clearness and with feeling, the sense of an author, in reading to a private party in a small room, would be totally without effect upon a large audience; while, on the contrary, such a range of inflection as would be no more than sufficient for a large audience, would sound like rant and extravagance in reading to a small one. The rule therefore comes to this, that the louder the voice is that may be necessary to be perfectly audible, the wider must be the range of inflection; and, on the contrary, the weaker the voice is, that is sufficient for the auditory, the range of inflection may be the more confined.
The student is not to expect that attention to these observations will make him an accomplished, graceful, attractive reader or speaker. The directions which have been given, refer merely to the conveying of the sense of what is read distinctly and forcibly. But to read with taste and effect, much more is necessary than this. The reader must enter into the spirit of his author, and, while he raises or lowers the pitch of his voice, or gives force and emphasis to particular words, he must, at the same time, use such tones as are appropriate to the sentiment to be expressed.
… But these elegancies and delicacies of elocution cannot be taught by written, or even oral directions. Nothing but a correct taste, cultivated by attention to the manner in which people of education and refinement express their sentiments and feelings, will enable any person to attain to them. Let it however be remembered, that in this, as in every other art, accuracy must lie at the foundation of excellency. Just as the management of light and shade or colour in a picture is totally lost if the drawing be incorrect — if the rules of perspective or the principles of anatomy or of architecture are not attended to; so the boldest and most commanding enunciation, or the most moving pathos or sweetest tones of voice are but deformities if they are misapplied, or if the sense be not clearly and distinctly conveyed.
All the passages are highly “moral” and many are directly about religious themes; I liked the book greatly despite this.
Full title: An introduction to the art of reading, with suitable accentuation and intonation. For the use of teachers.
Keywords: English Reader, elocution.